Microsoft unveils cloud-based development environment, Azure Game Dev VM

Today at GDC, Microsoft unveiled a publicly-available version of its Azure-based development solution, aptly called Azure Game Dev Virtual Machine (VM, for short). The offering’s goal is to help developers facing the modern challenges of hybrid and remote work, by providing a feature-filled virtual environment for teams to be able to work in a controlled, collaborative environment.

Azure Game Dev VM offers an impressive stack of features ranging from on-demand compute tasking, globally-accessible and persistent desktops, shareable desktop and asset functions to collaborate with team members remotely, and ultimately reduced build times due to included technologies, such as Incredibuild.

Perhaps just as important as the unveiling of the development platform however is the announcement of the partners providing their respective technologies to enable developers with a turn-key solution. Some of those partners’ technologies include:

  • Unreal Engine
  • Quixel Bridge
  • Perforce’s P4V Client
  • Parsec
  • Incredibuild
  • Blender

Additionally, as one would expect from Microsoft given their previous Game Stack-focused endeavors, the GDK, DirectX, and Playfab SDKs are available in the Azure Game Dev VM, as well as Visual Studio CE 2019.

Additional information on the platform (such as how to begin the migration process) can be found in the blog here. Given the challenges development studios have faced during the pandemic with distributed development, the news should come as a relief, especially for newer studios that are still attempting to build workflows and a suite of tools.

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Really interesting to see how this will push the industry.

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Absolutely; this is essentially the suite that Xbox built for its internal studios and some select partners, but the new partner technology additions should be a massive boon, especially for smaller/new studios.

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Really cool stuff!

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I wonder if it is gonna be available for the general consumers. I know that big tech like Facebook have been using VM for development for ages, but I guess this won’t be cheap.

I looked through the ID@Azure page and it doesn’t mention VM, so I’m thinking this product is probably aimed at larger organizations. Membership in ID@Azure does include $500 in Azure credit, but I’m guessing that won’t buy you much VM time. If it can even be applied towards that. :man_shrugging:

This development, while expected, is a bigger deal for the industry at large than I think most recognize yet. We’re moving towards a future where gaming development is democratized and where we can eventually see people who don’t have a lot of resources have the opportunity to do creative things and get discovered. Microsoft is doing a lot to reduce barriers for both creatives and consumers to find each other. Development kits in the cloud and tools with limited upfront costs for devs. Subscriptions reduce the risk for consumers to try new things. We should see an explosion in creativity not just created but experienced.

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